Docs

“City of Ghosts” takes doc prize at DGA Awards

Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts took home the top prize in documentary filmmaking at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards. Held Saturday night (Feb. 3) at the Beverly Hilton ...
February 5, 2018

Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts took home the top prize in documentary filmmaking at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards.

Held Saturday night (Feb. 3) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Heineman was honored with the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary. This was his second DGA Award nomination, having previously won in 2015 for Cartel Land.

City of Ghosts (pictured) follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” (RBSS) – a handful of anonymous activists and unwitting journalists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014.

Heineman is now one of three documentary filmmakers to win a DGA award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, joining Jehane Noujaim and Barbara Kopple.

The doc was directed, produced and filmed Matthew Heineman, exec produced by Alex GibneyMolly ThompsonElaine Frontain Bryant, David Fialkow, Stacey OffmanRobert Sharenow and Maiken Baird.

The 91-minute film made its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it took the Candescent Award, and has since won the Grand Jury Prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest; The Fritz Gerlich Prize in Munich; the Politikens Audience Award at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen; the Courage Under Fire Award at the IDA Documentary Awards; and was listed in the Unforgettables category at this year’s Cinema Eye Honors Awards.

The film has also picked up nominations from BAFTA and the Producers Guild Awards, and was short-listed for an Academy Award.

City of Ghosts bested the likes of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s PBS docuseries The Vietnam War, Steve James’ PBS feature-length documentary ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail, Bryan Fogel’s Netflix Olympic doping doc Icarus,and ErrolMorris‘ Netflix documentary-scripted hybrid Wormwood.

Meanwhile, the winner for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs was Brian Smith for “Vegas Deluxe & Oyster Shucks” of Fox’s MasterChef.

The win comes on the heels of Smith’s fifth DGA Award nomination, having been previously nominated for episodes of MasterChef from 2010-2013, and in 2016 for S.T.R.O.N.G. He previously won in this category for 2012′s MasterChef episode “Episode #305″.

Smith’s directorial team consists of associate director Anna Moulaison and stage managers Drew Lewandowski and Brady Hess.

The reality series took the prize ahead of ABC’s Encore!, A&E’s Live PD, MTV’s Chainsmokers, and NBC’s Spartan: The Ultimate Team Challenge.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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